Fring, a prominent mobile over internet communications service, has recently developed a product which advertises two-way video calls anywhere, to any phone, anytime, as well as a host of other features including multitasking capabilities and a chronological stream of updates from twitter, facebook, chats, and calls. The application, already in use with Android and Nokia smartphones, provides iPhone users with unrestricted 2-way video calling over Wi-Fi or 3G internet with other iPhone, Android or Symbian devices.
This innovation makes Fring the first ever cross platform mobile video applications provider. Avi Shechter, CEO and co-founder of Fring, played up the app's social networking advantages, saying that Fring is “thrilled to bring iPhone users unrestricted video calling with all their friends and family...We’re proud to facilitate this face-to-face mobile communication experience among friends wherever they are and wherever their friends are on smartphones.”
However, the new product has serious capacity issues. As a result, Fring began limiting access to third-party Skype as of July 9 in order to free up extra capacity for more frequent Fring-to-Fring video calling. This move has caused serious dissatisfaction among customers, revealing how central Skype has become to today's communications markets.
One customer wrote to the Fring website that “if Skype is not brought back as a fring add-on, fring is a ‘dead duck’ for me...even though I think fring (and the fring-concept) is indeed great stuff.”
The capacity problems also reveal some of the central difficulties found when developing cross functional mobile applications. In the words of blogger Andy Abramson, “while the Frings of the world may think they can go out and simply cross connect and transcode, the real secret to satisfaction is in keeping it up.” There is as yet no word on when these capacity problems will be solved or when Fring is likely to make Skype available again.
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